Hire a Painter, Or Do It Yourself?

Most of the time, homeowners are able to paint their homes, at least the interior, without a professional painter. Patience, prep and planning are key.

Most of the time, homeowners are able to paint their homes, at least the interior, without a professional painter. Patience, prep and planning are key. Prepping and painting aren't difficult jobs, but they do require careful work. There are a few times when you should call a pro and count the money well spent.

So, how do you decide if you should hire a painter or do it yourself?  

1. What are you painting over?

Homes built before 1978 may contain lead paint, causing safety concerns. The presence of lead does not automatically spell trouble. Lead paint is not a problem, depending on if it's in good condition. Lead paint becomes an issue if the paint is chipped, or ingested, i.e. if there are small children who might mouth windowsills or other lead-painted surfaces. It is also a problem if sanding the paint creates airborne lead paint dust particles.

If your home’s paint is in good condition, you can simply paint over it with a fresh paint without concerns. Test chipped, cracked or flakes of paint for the presence of lead using an at-home kit. If the paint tests positive for lead, call a remediation professional or pro painter for help. If you take certain safety precautions and follow all local regulations, you can sand old lead paint yourself (but do you want to??).

2. Interior or Exterior Jobs

Most interior paint jobs are fairly easy, as long as you don’t have cathedral ceilings or double story entries/staircases , but exterior painting can prove tricky for DIYers. The weather is the most variable wild card. You can't paint in all weather, and even a beautiful, cloudless day is challenging as it's not healthy painting in direct sunlight. A professional crew can paint most houses in a few days; much less time than a the average DIYer. If waiting for good weather, a week-long project might easily stretch into months, creating a lot of stress on the household.

Different light conditions caused by weather or time of day can cause challenges, especially if you're painting a similar color that makes it hard to spot imperfections and missed spots. Dew, humidity, and other normal daily conditions might cause issues with paint adhesion as well. These are problems a pro is used to accounting for and working around.

Building height is an also important variable to consider. You could probably paint the exterior of a one-story home yourself. Painting a second or third story may require extension ladders, scaffolding, and safety equipment. It's a good idea to hire professional painters. They already have or can rent the necessary equipment and are trained to use it safely.

3. Do you really want to do this??

Often not considered when people decide whether to paint themselves, it's important to take into account physical fitness before starting a painting job. Painting and hand brushing the trim in and around the ceiling means you'll be up and down a ladder quite a bit. Painting baseboards means crawling around on the floor or squatting and having to get up and down many times as you move along a wall.

It is okay, of course, to take breaks often and working slowly if needed, but be honest with yourself about how difficult physically the job actually is. Minor aches and pains respond with over the counter medications, but you don't want to risk throwing out your back, knees or neck. If you think painting poses a risk, it’s time to call a professional painter.

4. Budget:

With a pro, depending on the materials you choose, up to 85 percent of the cost is labor. It would seem you can save a lot by DIY. How much is actually saved depends on what equipment you already own. If you are a DIY painter, you already own some  brushes, painter's tape, drop cloths, paint trays, rollers, and other painting supplies.

If supplies are needed for the whole job, for the first time, or what you have is old and should be safely discarded, the costs can grow quickly. It’s still likely to be under the cost of a professional job, but the  savings may not be as much as originally thought. Remember to take materials, labor, prep AND clean-up into account when figuring out the budget and comparing a pro to DIY.

5-gallon buckets are cheaper than buying 1 gallon of paint at a time. Think carefully, however, before you go buying 5 gallons of paint at a time. These buckets are very heavy and difficult to work with when filling paint trays and other containers, and storage or disposal can be an ecological issue.  The cost of a smaller quantity should be worth the money.

5 How much time do you have?

A professional painter is going to be faster than you are, hands down. This may not matter if you have plenty of time and a loose schedule. If you're painting the kitchen, and need to cook while it is in progress, or large ceilings and walls — not to mention painting the entire exterior of your house.

You might be able to paint a small room over a weekend, but larger rooms with trim make the job slower, and require a lot of prep work. If you have a deadline, such as the arrival of a baby, family event or other construction projects, hire a pro.

6. What condition are your walls in?

Don't let cracks and nail holes scare you away from a DIY paint job. Painters often describe fixing imperfections as tedious and make it sound way harder than it is. It's pretty elementary to smooth some spackle over cracks or small holes. If you slip up, it’s easy to  sand or sponge away spackle and try again.

Things are more difficult if a large patch for a wall or ceiling is needed. If water damage or a home repair left a larger hole to patch, a professional painter is a good idea. You could also call a drywaller (or plasterer ) to fix the walls for you and still DIY the painting. A larger wall repair can be quite noticeable after painting if not done well, so it's wise not to risk it.

7. How big is the whole project?

Redecorating a room or two isn't a major project, but painting an entire home can be. If you just bought a house and hate all the existing paint color, a professional painter is the best way to solve the problem. They can get the entire job done quickly and do it all at once, lessening the chaos of moving in.

8. Are you good with colors?

Depending on the lights you have, the time of day you choose paint, and the weather, paint looks fantastic on a swatch but horrid when you see a large patch on the wall.  Paint also dries darker sometimes. . If you have a hard time making decisions and might change your mind 5 times about the color, consider painting yourself. It will still cost extra in paint,, but you won't have to pay painters to repaint over and over.

Not convinced yet? Why else might you need a pro?

Here’s why it's best to just go ahead and call in a pro:

·        ​High ceilings:​Special ladders and equipment are required to paint high ceilings safely, so call a safety-trained pro.

·        ​High-end finishes:​High-gloss lacquer finishes, for cabinets, are typically sprayed on and require a professional's skillful hands. Lacquers and high-gloss finishes tend to show every imperfection, so it’s wise to trust a pro to apply both the finish and the paint underneath it.

·        ​Odd or dangerous spaces:​Stairwell ceilings, for instance, are tricky AND dangerous. It requires a ladder designed to work with steps. Don't try to rig a regular ladder over stairs, though. Safety has to be a priority concern.

·        ​Using oil-based paint:​Unlike latex, oil-based paints chemical paint thinner to clean up. Different states have different rules about disposing these chemicals after use. Depending on what your state requires, let a professional painter take care of cleanup and disposal.

Most importantly, professional painters should leave your home with straight edges every time, with minor, barely noticeable imperfections. If you DIY, it’s likely every mistake jumps out at you, no matter how small. If a minor DIY imperfection is going to drive you crazy and spoil the results of all that hard work, hire a professional.

Bill Glick Painting provides complete professional services from start to finish for interior and exterior painting on houses, out buildings, decks, fences and barns.

Call today for a free estimate.

216 288 1526.

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